West Hollywood is poised to become the nation’s first fur-free city as the City Council offered unanimous support for the motion at its Monday night meeting.
Newly elected Councilman John D’Amico introduced the ordinance to ban the sale of apparel with animal fur in all retail shops within the city. D’Amico championed the cause during his election campaign and made this the first bill he sponsored since joining the council.
“It would encourage the promotion of West Hollywood as a destination for cruelty-free and animal-welfare events and begin to establish West Hollywood as the humane capital of the United States,” D’Amico said.
Councilwoman Abbe Land supported the bill, but cautioned that the city would be setting a precedent. “It is incumbent upon us that we do it right,” Land said.
Mayor Pro Tem Jeffrey Prang concurred. “We want to make sure we put in a draft what essentially could be a boiler plate ordinance which other cities are going to ask to look at,” he said.
The council voted unanimously to approve D'Amico's ordinance, and asked City Manager Paul Arevalo to gather input from impacted business for an initial draft.
Elton John AIDS Foundation Oscar Party
The council gave tentative approval to a bill that would move the annual Elton John AIDS Foundation gala Oscar viewing party from the across the street to .
The foundation has held the party in West Hollywood since 1995, and at the PDC since 2005. But the party has outgrown the space available in the courtyard in front of the PDC. A foundation spokesperson told the council they have been looking for other venues and the park is the only place in the city large enough to accommodate the party.
Mayor John Duran, who sponsored the bill with Prang, noted that it would be a terrible loss if the party left the city. “I don’t consider that the city is competing with the Pacific Design Center [for hosting the party], I think we’re competing with Hollywood,” Duran said, calling the party one of the “premier events in the city.”
Even though he co-sponsored the bill, Prang pulled the item off the consent calendar, saying he wanted more details about logistics and waiving fees for use of the park. Among the fees the city might waive would be the $3,000 per day park usage fee for the 7-10 days required to set up and take down the party.
The proposed plan would see the party held on the former baseball field, now a parking lot at the north end of the park. Arevalo noted that section of the park is scheduled for renovation and holding the party there would mean adjusting the construction schedule.
Councilman John Heilman said he wanted to see the party stay in West Hollywood, but pointed out that San Vicente Boulevard is already closed to traffic on the night of the party and might be another option for where it could be held.
Heilman also noted that many other organizations do good work for the community. “I’m a little bit worried about setting a precedent that any organization that does great work can get to use the park without paying certain fees,” Heilman said.
In pushing the item forward, Duran said, “Ultimately, it’s about raising money for people with AIDS. I’m not interested in what makes good business sense for the PDC. We’re raising money for HIV and AIDS. That to me is not a business decision.”
The council instructed Arevalo to get more details about costs and logistics, then report back at the next council meeting.
Contributions to independent committees
The council voted 4-1 to adopt an ordinance that would amend the city’s municipal code to eliminate limits on contributions to independent committees. The city currently limits those contributions to $500.
City Attorney Mike Jenkins initiated the change noting that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled there should be no limit for contributions to independent committees. If the city does not amend the ordinance, it could face a lawsuit.
Both Prang and Land were opposed to change, but felt there was no choice but to approve it.
Heilman was the lone dissenter, voting against the change. He expressed concern about not knowing who is giving money to independent committees, which can often be shadow groups that influence elections.
Council members named new appointees or reappointed existing appointees to various city commissions. Weho Patch will have a complete list of those appointees later in the week.
The council held off on voting for the at-large members of each commission, saying they wanted to see how the direct appointments shaped up first. Each seven-member commission has five direct appointees (one from each councilmember) and two at-large members who must be approved by a majority of the council.